Grilled Mackerel with Carrots and Chard

October 5, 2007

Grilled mackerel

This week I started a part-time Masters in London Studies at Birkbeck College. At the tender age of 35 I find myself a student yet again. This is the fourth Masters course I’ve started, and hopefully, in 2 years time, it will be the third one I’ve finished.

The MA I dropped out of was in Modern British History at Hallam University, which I enrolled on back in ’95. At the end of the first term I was faced with the horrific prospect of writing a 3000 word essay on Britain’s pre-war tariff and trade policies. At that point I did the decent thing and fell on my academic sword, returning with relief to my job as second chef at Scottie’s Bistro.

My tutor on that course was a legendary climber, Paul Nunn, who died in a Himalayan avalanche the same year I quit. I only found out when I stumbled across his obituary in the paper. He was a lovely, funny, bearded northern bloke and I was very sad to hear the news. I hadn’t even known he was a climber. I learned later that he’d inspired an entire generation of British mountaineers, including Joe Simpson of Touching the Void fame.

So I am once again a slave to the reading list and the seminar schedule. The cash I save on cheap cinema tickets and 10% book discounts will go towards buying cartons of Bulgarian merlot and paying hefty library fines. After 6 cold hard years in the labour market, it’s good to be back in the warm fluffy bosom of academia. Whether I’ll have time to do much blogging over the coming months is another matter. I’ve already started another blog for recording my research ideas and course notes, but I can’t see that one crashing into Technorati’s Top 100 any time soon.

Which is a pretty long-winded way of introducing what I had for dinner tonight.

Grilled Mackerel with Swiss Chard and Carrot

This recipe came with the Riverford newsletter a few weeks ago, and I’ve made it several times since. It’s colourful, tasty, and makes you forget you’re eating carrots. Again.

1. Peel some carrots and slice thinly on an angle (about 3 carrots per person seems about right). Boil until al dente, then drain.

2. Take a big handful of chard per person and seperate the leaves from the stalks. Chop the stalks into 1 inch pieces and boil ’til tender. Drain. Now also boil the leaves and drain when cooked.

3. Chop a garlic clove or two and some red chilli finely. Heat some olive oil in a wok or saute pan and add the garlic and chilli. Stir a couple of times and add all the vegetables. Saute for a few minutes to let the flavours mingle. Season, and, if you like, dress with another glug of strong, peppery olive oil.

4. To serve with grilled mackerel: Get a nice plump shiny-eyed fish. Chop off ‘er head and gut ‘er. Make diagonal scores in both sides of the fish. Rub salt, pepper and oil into the scores, the skin and the cavity. Get the grill nice and hot and bung her under. 4 or 5 minutes each side should do the trick. Serve with a wedge of lemon.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a learned article on the water supply in 16th century London to attend to.


11 Responses to “Grilled Mackerel with Carrots and Chard”

  1. Joanna Says:

    Hey – well, please keep on blogging, even though you’re studying, it’s good to read about YOUR Riverford box, it’s not always the same as mine 😉

    I’m intrigued to know if you have my father’s single-volume history of London on your reading list – my friend who has just started an MA in medieval London studies at Royal Holloway has it … he’s now nearly 90, and would be v chuffed to find it on TWO lists: a History of London by Francis Sheppard …

    Good luck – and keep on blogging!


  2. gastropunk Says:

    Hi Joanna,
    Yes indeed, your father’s book is a set text – in fact, later this term there’s a whole seminar dedicated to it, along with Roy Porter’s Social History of London and Peter Ackroyd’s Biography of London. What a bizarre coincidence! I haven’t read your father’s book yet – I’ll be sure to blog about it once I do. It’s a huge undertaking to write a single-volume history of London – the subject is vast and can be approached from so many different angles. Full respect to your Dad for having the energy and discipline to write such a book.

  3. spinningjeni Says:

    We’ll miss you when you drop this blog. What’s the address of your new blog, I’d like to follow that too?
    My sisier’s friend Jane Cox has just finished a book on Bethnel Green; I suppose it’s out by now, she was finishing it for the publisher last Christmas. She’s not far from you in Kentish Town.
    All the best with your studies.

  4. Wow! Good luck with your studying – not an easy endeavour to study and work at the same time …

  5. Wow – good luck! Not an easy endeavour to study and work at the same time …

  6. stratfordgirl Says:

    Oops – didn’t think the comment had worked the first time 🙂

  7. Mopsa Says:

    Bought fabulous zingingly fresh mackerel from the fish man at the market on Tuesday – small but just a quid each!! I DO love Devon.

  8. itsfood Says:

    Hope you find the time to keep this blog going. Good luck with the Masters.

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